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Friday, September 28, 2012
Who will transform tomorrow?

By Kevin Gemmell

The Pac-12 blog has given a lot of love to Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly this week. And much of it is deserved for his performance through the first quarter of the season.

Well, at least three and a half of the four games.

It's time for Kelly to take his team to the next level. That means winning on the road. Ted documented ASU's out-of-Arizona issues earlier this week. And when you look at Kelly so far this year, he's played his best games in the toastier confines of Sun Devil Stadium.

But for Arizona State to be the kind of team that can break into the top 25, he's going to have to do it on the road.

Consider, in the three home games this year, Kelly is 52 of 68 (76 percent) with five touchdowns and no interceptions. In his one road game, he was 14 of 23 with one touchdown and his only two picks of the year. Granted, Columbia, Mo., isn't an easy place to play, but Cal's Memorial Stadium won't be, either.

Arizona State has used its running back depth brilliantly during its 3-1 start. And Kelly hasn't been asked to do much more than run the offense and not turn it over. But in those home games, he's shown a special knack for keeping plays alive with his feet and making good decisions. He showed glimpses of it in ASU's loss to Missouri -- and he was gutty in almost leading his team to a come-from-behind win in the fourth quarter. But the consistency he's showed at home wasn't to be found against the Tigers -- especially in the first half when the offensive line looked slow at times and Kelly had Tigers aplenty in his face.

A week later, he was nothing short of sensational against Utah -- a team perceived to have a pretty good defense.

If Arizona State wants to be a player in the South -- where USC is still king, but Arizona and UCLA are rising quickly -- Kelly is going to have to have success away from home. Only the UCLA game is at Sun Devil Stadium. Which means he'll have to lead his teams to victory at the Coliseum and in Tucson for ASU to get to where it wants to be.

A victory over a 1-3 Cal team probably won't do much to boost ASU's national perception. But it can do wonders for Kelly and the confidence of the Sun Devils as they move deeper into South division play.